Political unrest erupted in Kyrgyzstan, the mountainous nation west of China’s Xinjiang province, after a disputed parliamentary election on October 4. Anger over election rigging prompted a large demonstration in the capital’s city square the next day, when protesters set the parliament on fire.
Beijing watched calmly as different political fractions rushed to fill the power vacuum, knowing that no matter which political party ended up controlling the parliament, no member of the Kyrgyz elite, be they youth or religious leaders, would threaten what China is after in the country – Kyrgyz support against the separatist movement in Xinjiang.
By October 6, the situation had turned into a full-scale revolt – some people began to claim governmental titles while crowds seized state-owned companies and a number of large gold mines across the country, including two Chinese-operated fields.
This is not the first time this year that chaos in Kyrgyzstan has targeted Chinese investments. The Central Asian nation’s elite likes to sweet-talk the Chinese into investing in domestic projects to fill their pockets, but have little motivation to actually protect or see them through.